Today we celebrate the vital but increasingly endangered institution of the record store. (The proclamation above comes from the mayor of Bloomington, Indiana, but His Majesty Bloomberg has released one as well, encouraging folks to head to J&R or their local neighborhood store.) It’s no news that record stores big and small have been battered by new technologies and a damaged economy — and, I think, by the industry’s bad business models. But every time I hear about a small record store folding it hurts: How many times have I walked into a store and left with something I’d never heard of, simply because an employee recommended it or it was playing over the store sound system?

I grew up in the transition phase from vinyl to cassette. I owned both. Most new releases I purchased on cassette — I never belonged to a mail-order LP club, for instance, the way people only a few years older than I am had — but for special releases I’d buy vinyl, and I also loved to dig through the used record bins at music stores. The biggest find of my 80s teenage years was a beautiful copy of “U-2 3,” a reissue of U2’s first EP, which although it wasn’t one of the original 1000 copies pressed wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to find back then.

I stopped buying vinyl around the time I started buying CDs. I was one of the fools who was convinced they would last longer and sound better. But five or six years ago I realized there was a host of old, weird stuff out there on vinyl, much of it to be had for 50 cents or a dollar, that had never made it to CD and wasn’t available for download. So I bought a new turntable and started digging through crates again. Or just picking stuff up off the street when people threw out their old collections. In the last couple years I’ve returned to buying new releases on vinyl; downloading’s convenient, but I do love the tangible artifact, especially when it involves nice artwork.

I’ve got a date with my record club tonight — I’ve written about that venerable East Village institution here — or I’d probably be at Other Music, listening to Bill Callahan, one of my long-time favorite performers. (I just bought his new release, Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle, on vinyl the other day, actually.) Maybe I’ll catch the DJ set by another favorite act, Grizzly Bear, earlier in the afternoon. (Their Yellow House sounds fantastic as an LP.) Other places I hope to celebrate the day: Generation Records on Thompson, where I bought my daughter an eclectic 7″ collection last Christmas, to go along with her own turntable in a suitcase. (She’s a fan of antique technologies.) I also really dig the 50 cent bins and classical section at Housing Works. I probably won’t buy as much as I tend to when the WFMU record fair rolls around each year — but I’ll gladly pitch in a couple bucks to keep these institutions alive.

What are your favorite record stores or record store moments?